Hosting dinner parties for friends, family, or co-workers can be a huge stress, or it can be a lot of fun! Whatever the occasion, dinner parties are a celebration of some sort, because loved ones are coming together. Make your job as a host easier, and ensure your guests are having a great time with these dinner party must haves! Many of these tips are inclined to a formal dinner, but the same ideas apply for most dinners. The main key to remember about hosting a dinner party is that it is all about your guests. Think about who you are serving to, what they may like to eat, drink, etc. For example, if you have a food allergy, don’t serve everyone according to your diet restrictions! And if your favorite flower is a yellow rose, don’t set the tables with them, try a rose with a more inviting and friendly meaning such as a pink rose. Whether or not you have a great dinner party is all in the details, so remember to be mindful of your guests, and have a great time!
1. Ample food and drink options… more than you think!
Now more than any other night of your week is your chance to treat your guests like they are kings and queens. Whether you’re planning a fancy celebration feast for a hundred people, or a simple night with friends with no more than a handful, your guests will likely be arriving hungry and hoping to leave stuffed. There’s nothing worse than arriving hungry to a dinner party and having to wait an hour to eat! Provide hour de’ oeuvres and drinks for your guests to snack and sip on while they mingle and wait for the first course. Start with a healthy salad, and give those who may be on a diet ample chance to fill up on veggies and greens. Provide a second course/main dish options to fill up your guests, and ALWAYS provide dessert. Make sure you have something for gluten free/dairy free guests so they don’t feel awkward. Coffee and drinks will keep them up and satisfied longer, so be sure to have this ready to serve as well. If the dinner you are planning is very formal with catering, then add a menu for your guests to choose from.
2. Ambiance: Flowers, candles, music…
Flowers are a must have for dinner parties. They make any space more beautiful and dress up your tables to give your guests something appealing to look at. Make sure you have enough flowers and candles to set each table, but not so big, tall or elaborate that your guests can’t see one another. The key is to be charming and appealing, but also subtle. The main event is not the decor, but it’s an important part that can make or break the aesthetics. To be extra nice, you can give the flower arrangements to your guests as a party favor when they leave.
3. Good lighting
At a dinner party, “good” lighting means dim, soft, flattering lighting. Candles on the tables, and dimmed overhead lights if inside, strung lights if outside. Soft, dim lighting will make your food and your guests look good, and set the perfect mood for your guests to hang around a little longer and feel comfortable.
4. Proper dinner setting
Here’s the proper setting for a formal dinner, you can adapt it to what you’re serving. The key is to count your RSVP’s early (not just before your dinner) and then your dinnerware to make sure they match up. Make sure you have enough so that there’s no embarrassing fumbling around to find a fork or an extra plate. In the same way, remember not to set out a glass or dish that you will not be using, it will leave your guests anticipating something to fill it.
5. A smile on your face!
Remember, your guests are all here because you invited them. The number one thing guests look for in a dinner party is to feel good, welcome, comfortable. If they are the first guest there, greet them cheerfully and make conversation so they don’t feel awkward. If they arrive late, greet them kindly without drawing too much attention, and make them feel like they are “right on time”. As a host, there is a fine balance between serving everyone so that everyone is satisfied, but also being a part of the dinner. No one feels comfortable when someone is making a fuss over them! If someone has an allergy or preference or is not eating the dessert or drinking the alcohol, for example, have other options for them, but don’t bring attention to it.